The city government has allocated a P3.72 billion 2021 budget, tailoring it as a recovery budget to reel the city from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

A diminution from 2020’s P3.78 billion, the local legislators on Monday passed on its third and final reading the local appropriations bill, SDO No. 171-2020, which prioritized “economic services” at P1.306 billion yielding to 35 percent of the total local government spending.


Agriculture and economy

The theme of 2021’s budget is “Protection of Public Health and Keeping the Economy Sustainable”, said city councilor Victor Oliveros, chairman of City Council committee on appropriations.

“’Yong ating economic services ang malaking chunk. Doon sa ating economic services na P1.3 billion, ‘yan ang pinaka-malaki,” Oliveros told Palawan News.

Economic services expenditure includes agriculture and veterinary, which are the key sectors in food security.

In July 2020, the city government pronounced that it was shifting gears towards agriculture and addressing food security, having realized it had relied so much on tourism which had been severely affected by the pandemic.

“We learned not to put all our eggs in one basket. Ngayong pandemya, nakita natin ang epekto sa tourism kaya we are adjusting our focus. Palalakasin natin ang agrikultura para hindi na tayo mag-angkat ng gulay at ibang produkto,” said city mayor Lucilo Bayron in an earlier statement.

A tripartite agreement among the city government, Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF), and Yamang Bukid Farms Palawan was in pipeline to utilize some 270 hectares of land in IPPF to solidify its “food security measures”.


Climate change and disaster risk resilient infrastructure

In the national government, as the pandemic wiped out millions of jobs, the Duterte administration is planning to build its way out of the pandemic through infrastructure projects.

A similar move was maneuvered by the city government as it allotted P680 million for infrastructure projects which was categorized as “high priority” in the annual investment plan, a 19 percent decrease from 2020’s P840 million.

P39 million was also under allocated for displaced tourism sector workers through cash-for-work and livelihood assistance program.

Engineering, and Environment and Natural Resources Offices, also under the economic services, would prioritize infrastructure projects which are “climate change and disaster risk resilient” to foster a “more robust investment climate”.

Under Republic Act (RA) 10174 or the Climate Change act of 2009, local government units (LGU) may request from the Climate Change Commission (CCC) through its People’s Survival Fund (PSF) for climate change-related projects.

With a guaranteed annual P1 billion fund under the General Appropriation Act (GAA), activities supported through the fund includes adaptation activities in water resources management, land management, agriculture and fisheries, health, and infrastructure development among others.


Social services

Trailing second on the 2021 government spending is social services with P1.108 billion, or 30 percent of the local budget.

Of the P1.108 billion social services budget, more than 5 percent was drafted for gender and development (GAD) including “securing the welfare of children and students”; enhancing satellite clinics in rural barangays; incentives for indigent solo parents; support employment and shelter for the urban poor; and the expansion of cash allowance for the senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD).

Emergency funds were also replenished that may be used in case natural or human-induced disasters arise.

“”Mayroong na-allocate na P200 million for COVID response,” Oliveros added.

(With a report from Jeshyl Guiroy)